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Apr 20, 2023

Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? If so, you're not alone. Millions of people worldwide face the challenges that come with ADHD, including difficulties in focus, organization, and executive functioning. While medication can help manage some symptoms, ADHD coaching is an alternative or complementary approach that has proven to be effective in helping people with ADHD lead more organized, productive, and successful lives. In this article, we'll delve into what ADHD coaching entails, its benefits, and how to find the right ADHD coach for you or your loved one. So, settle in and get ready to explore the world of ADHD coaching!

Here’s what we’ll tackle:

What is the role of Executive Functioning in ADHD?

What is ADHD coaching?

How can coaching help people with ADHD?

Who is ADHD coaching for and what are the benefits for people of different ages?

Why does coaching benefit individuals with ADHD?

How to find an ADHD coach

What are the criteria for becoming an ADHD coach?

The takeaway

 

What is the role of Executive Functioning in ADHD?

First of all, it’s important to note that Executive Functioning plays a significant role in ADHD, as it refers to a set of cognitive processes that help individuals plan, organize, initiate, and complete tasks. These processes are essential for regulating behavior, managing time, and solving problems. In people with ADHD, Executive Functioning is often impaired, leading to various challenges in their daily lives.

The key components of Executive Functioning impacted by ADHD include:

  1. Working memory: Working memory is the ability to hold and manipulate information in the mind for short periods. Individuals with ADHD may struggle to remember instructions, keep track of multiple tasks, or follow through on plans.
  2. Inhibition: Inhibition refers to the ability to control impulsive thoughts and actions. Impaired inhibition in people with ADHD can lead to difficulties with impulse control, resulting in problems with decision-making and social interactions.
  3. Cognitive flexibility: Cognitive flexibility is the ability to adapt to new situations, switch tasks, or adjust strategies when facing challenges. Individuals with ADHD may struggle to change their approach when a situation requires it or have difficulty transitioning between tasks.
  4. Planning and organization: Planning and organization involve setting goals, developing a plan to achieve them, and arranging resources to execute the plan. People with ADHD often have difficulty with these skills, leading to disorganization and challenges in managing daily tasks, such as schoolwork or household chores.
  5. Time management: Time management is the ability to estimate, allocate, and manage time effectively. Individuals with ADHD may struggle to keep track of time, prioritize tasks, or meet deadlines, which can result in procrastination and unfinished projects.
  6. Task initiation and persistence: Task initiation refers to the ability to start a task, while persistence is the ability to stay engaged and see it through to completion. People with ADHD often have difficulty initiating tasks or persisting with them, especially if they are complex or require sustained attention.
  7. Emotional regulation: Emotional regulation is the ability to manage and respond to emotions appropriately. Individuals with ADHD may experience difficulties with emotional regulation, leading to mood swings, frustration, or impulsive reactions.

Weak Executive Functioning in people with ADHD can significantly impact their academic performance, work success, relationships, and overall quality of life. By addressing these Executive Function challenges through interventions such as ADHD coaching, individuals can develop coping strategies and skills to better manage their symptoms and improve their daily functioning. Simply put, by tackling these issues head-on through coaching, you can lead a happy and fulfilling life with ADHD.

What is ADHD coaching?

ADHD coaching is a specialized type of support provided by professionals with specific qualifications and experience in helping people who have ADHD. These coaches create tailored programs to address the unique needs of their clients, helping them reach their goals and overcome the challenges posed by ADHD.

An ADHD coach will provide regular support, encouragement, and motivation, holding their clients accountable and propelling them toward their personal goals. They also teach practical skills that can improve daily habits and activities, ensuring sustainable positive change.

How can coaching help people with ADHD?

Did you know that research has shown coaching can significantly improve the lives of people with ADHD? For instance, one study found that college students who received individual coaching developed better Executive Functioning skills and self-determination skills. This brings us to the core of ADHD coaching: improving Executive Function skills.

ADHD coaches use various strategies and techniques to help individuals improve Executive Function skills. Here are 7 ways ADHD coaches can help students and adults in specific areas:

Time management:

    • Teaching clients to break tasks into smaller, manageable steps
    • Helping clients create daily, weekly, and monthly schedules
    • Encouraging the use of timers and alarms to stay on track
    • Introducing techniques for estimating and allocating time for tasks

Managing stress:

    • Guiding clients in identifying stress triggers and developing coping strategies
    • Teaching relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and mindfulness exercises
    • Encouraging clients to maintain a healthy balance between work, school, and personal life
    • Helping clients build a support network and seek professional help when necessary

Staying focused:

    • Teaching clients strategies to minimize distractions, such as creating a designated workspace and using noise-canceling headphones
    • Introducing techniques to improve concentration, such as the Pomodoro Technique or mindfulness practices
    • Encouraging clients to take regular breaks and engage in physical activity to maintain focus

Keeping organized:

    • Guiding clients in setting up systems for organizing physical and digital spaces
    • Teaching clients to use tools such as planners, calendars, and to-do lists effectively
    • Encouraging clients to establish routines for daily tasks and activities

Planning and prioritization:

    • Helping clients set realistic goals and prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency
    • Teaching clients to break large projects into smaller tasks and set deadlines
    • Guiding clients in using tools such as Gantt charts or Eisenhower matrices to visualize and manage tasks

Overcoming procrastination:

    • Assisting clients in identifying and addressing the root causes of procrastination, such as fear of failure or perfectionism
    • Encouraging clients to set specific, achievable goals and deadlines
    • Teaching clients to use rewards and consequences as motivation to complete tasks

Persisting with tasks until they're completed:

    • Helping clients develop strategies to maintain motivation, such as visualizing the end result or creating a reward system
    • Encouraging clients to track progress and celebrate small wins along the way
    • Teaching clients to develop resilience and learn from setbacks or challenges

ADHD coaches use a combination of practical strategies, tools, and techniques to help individuals improve their Executive Function skills. By providing personalized support and guidance, coaches empower clients to take control of their lives and achieve their goals.

People with ADHD can experience improvements in various aspects of their lives, from school and work to personal relationships by honing these skills. 

Who is ADHD coaching for and what are the benefits for people of different ages?

ADHD coaching can benefit anyone diagnosed with ADHD or struggling with Executive Function deficits. However, coaching will only be effective if the person is willing and ready to invest time and energy into making a change. It’s not uncommon for students, in particular, to approach coaching with skepticism, if not downright hostility. A good coach will know how to form a trusting rapport with their client and explore how small changes may be beneficial, in order to overcome that initial barrier to fully engaging with the process.

Let’s explore how coaching programs can be tailored to different age groups to provide specialized support.

Elementary

In elementary school, children with ADHD may struggle with basic academic skills, such as reading, writing, and arithmetic. They might have difficulty paying attention during class, following directions, and completing assignments on time. Additionally, children with ADHD often face social challenges, such as making and maintaining friendships, as they may struggle with impulse control and emotional regulation. Consequences at this stage can include poor academic performance, low self-esteem, and difficulties with socialization.

Middle School

As children transition to middle school, they face increased academic demands and greater expectations for independence. Students with ADHD may struggle with organization, time management, and prioritizing tasks. They might also have difficulties adapting to a more complex schedule and keeping track of multiple assignments and projects. Social challenges may persist or intensify as peer relationships become more complex. Consequences at this stage can include a widening gap in academic performance, increased stress and anxiety, and potential social isolation.

High School

High school students with ADHD face even greater academic demands, with more complex coursework and a higher emphasis on grades and test scores. They might struggle with studying effectively, managing long-term projects, and coping with exam stress. Teenagers with ADHD may also experience difficulties with self-regulation, decision-making, and risk-taking behaviors. Consequences at this stage can include poor academic performance, increased risk of dropping out, and difficulties in planning for post-secondary education or career options.

College

College students with ADHD confront a new level of independence, which can exacerbate executive functioning challenges. They may have difficulty managing their schedules, keeping up with coursework, and balancing academic and social demands. Additionally, they might struggle with self-advocacy and seeking appropriate accommodations. Consequences at this stage can include lower academic performance, a higher risk of dropping out, and increased mental health challenges, such as anxiety and depression.

Adults

Adults with ADHD may face challenges in various aspects of their lives, including work, relationships, and daily living. At work, they might struggle with time management, organization, meeting deadlines, and maintaining focus. In relationships, adults with ADHD may have difficulties with communication, emotional regulation, and managing responsibilities. When it comes to daily living, they may struggle to maintain routines, manage finances, and balance multiple responsibilities. Consequences at this stage can include job dissatisfaction or loss, relationship conflicts or breakdowns, and overall decreased quality of life.

The challenges posed by ADHD differ across age groups, often becoming more complex and demanding as individuals grow older. An adult ADHD coach can provide tailored support to help individuals navigate these challenges at each stage of life, ultimately enabling them to thrive academically, socially, and professionally.

Why does coaching benefit individuals with ADHD?

For individuals with ADHD, sticking to better work habits can be challenging! Because ADHD affects Executive Functioning, people often find it difficult to create and maintain productive work habits on their own. Here are 7 reasons why a coach is pivotal in helping people with ADHD achieve their goals and improve their lives:

  1. Expertise: ADHD coaches have specialized training and experience in understanding the unique challenges faced by people with ADHD. They can provide tailored strategies and techniques that address specific needs, which may not be achievable through self-help or general advice.
  2. Accountability: A coach can hold their clients accountable for their actions and commitments, ensuring they stay on track with their goals. This external accountability can be a powerful motivator for individuals with ADHD, who may otherwise struggle with self-motivation and follow-through.
  3. Structure: People with ADHD often find it challenging to create and maintain structure in their lives. ADHD coaches can help clients establish routines, schedules, and organization systems that cater to their specific needs and preferences, providing a foundation for better work habits.
  4. Support and encouragement: ADHD coaches offer consistent support and encouragement, helping their clients overcome setbacks, build confidence, and stay focused on their goals. This ongoing support can be essential in fostering long-term behavioral changes and success.
  5. Skill-building: ADHD coaches teach practical skills and techniques that can improve executive functioning and daily habits. By working with a coach, individuals with ADHD can acquire and practice these skills more effectively than if they were trying to learn them independently.
  6. Personalized approach: Each person with ADHD has unique strengths, weaknesses, and needs. ADHD coaches provide personalized guidance and strategies, taking into account individual differences and ensuring that the support offered is tailored to the client's specific situation.
  7. Monitoring progress: ADHD coaches track their clients' progress, helping them identify areas of improvement and adjust their strategies as needed. This ongoing assessment and feedback can be invaluable in promoting sustained growth and development.

While an ADHD coach can help clients make leaps and bounds in addressing goals, it’s important to recognize that change cannot occur without commitment. The client must be motivated and ready to focus on implementing the strategies and tips they learn throughout each session. Coaches and clients work as a team to create incredible change.

ADHD coaches play a vital role in helping people with ADHD achieve their goals and improve their lives. By providing expertise, accountability, structure, support, skill-building, personalized guidance, and progress monitoring, ADHD coaches empower their clients to overcome challenges and create lasting, positive change.

How to find an ADHD coach

When looking for an ADHD coach, you can explore several avenues, such as:

Not every ADHD life coach is the same. Ensure that the coach you choose has experience addressing the specific problems you want to tackle and the outcomes you hope to achieve.  There are a number of criteria to take into account when choosing the coach that’s right for you. Before looking for coaches, take some time to figure out what you or your loved one are looking for by answering the following questions:

  • Which symptoms would I most like my coach to help out with?
  • Would I prefer that my coach is a man or a woman?
  • Is there a specific area of expertise I’d like my coach to have (i.e. students, professionals)?
  • Would I like my coach to be older and more experienced or younger and more relatable?
  • Would I like my coaching sessions to be virtual or in-person?
  • What’s my coaching budget?
  • What kind of personality would my ideal coach have?
  • Are there other issues (i.e. anxiety, depression, unresolved trauma) that I should address before trying coaching?

After building a solid picture of your ideal coach, it’s time to begin searching for the right candidate. Reach out to well-respected coaching organizations and choose from coaches who are open to taking on new clients. Once you have a list of professionals, set up some time to interview your top choices. During your initial consultation with potential ADHD coaches make sure to ask them these questions to decide whether they’re the right fit for you or a loved one:

  • What kind of education and training have you completed? What are your credentials?
  • How long have you been working as an ADHD coach?
  • Do you specialize in working with a specific kind of client?
  • Do you have experience coaching students/professionals? (depending on your status)
  • Are coaching sessions in-person or online?
  • How long are sessions? How often are they?
  • What are your fees?
  • Can you walk me through what a typical session looks like?
  • Do you have personal experience with ADHD or Executive Functioning deficits?
  • How many clients do you see at one time?
  • Do you have any former clients I can talk to?

Make sure you take notes during your one-on-one! After the interview is over, take some time to reflect on your thoughts about the potential coach. Consider whether they make you feel comfortable and motivated to succeed. But above all, think about if you’re ready to commit to coaching and be an active participant in sessions.

What are the criteria for becoming an ADHD coach?

Various professionals can offer ADHD coaching, including:

  • Licensed mental health professionals
  • Educators and school counselors
  • Other types of therapists, such as Occupational Therapists or Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Individuals who are not licensed mental health professionals but specialize in ADHD coaching

There isn't a single, universally accepted set of criteria for becoming an ADHD coach. However, the ACO does recommend certain qualifications and competencies for ADHD coaches. Some of these criteria include:

  1. Education and Training: ACO recommends that ADHD coaches have a strong foundation in coaching principles, usually acquired through coach-specific training programs. Many coaches may also have additional education or certifications in related fields, such as psychology, counseling, or education.
  2. ADHD Knowledge: ACO emphasizes that coaches should possess a thorough understanding of ADHD, including its symptoms, challenges, and treatment options. This knowledge enables coaches to tailor their approach to the unique needs of clients with ADHD.
  3. Coaching Experience: ACO suggests that ADHD coaches have experience in coaching individuals with ADHD. This experience helps coaches develop the skills necessary to address the specific challenges faced by clients with ADHD effectively.
  4. Ethics and Professionalism: ACO stresses the importance of ethical conduct and adherence to professional standards. 
  5. Continuing Education: ACO recommends that ADHD coaches engage in ongoing professional development to stay current with the latest research, best practices, and coaching techniques in the field of ADHD.
  6. Supervision and Mentoring: ACO encourages ADHD coaches to seek supervision or mentoring from experienced professionals in the field. This guidance helps coaches refine their skills and ensures that they provide the best possible support to their clients.

You should note that these criteria are guidelines rather than strict requirements. When searching for an ADHD coach, it's most important to find someone with the right qualifications, experience, and approach that best fits your specific needs and goals.

Interested in coaching for ADHD?  Learn why families choose Beyond BookSmart

The takeaway

In summary, ADHD coaching is a powerful tool to help people with ADHD manage their symptoms and improve their daily lives. By focusing on enhancing Executive Function skills, coaching can lead to consistent progress toward personal goals and a more productive, focused, and organized life.

If you're considering ADHD coaching for yourself or a loved one, don't hesitate to take the first step toward improving core executive function skills. Reach out to a qualified ADHD or Executive Function coach today and embark on the journey toward unlocking your full potential.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash


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About the Author

Jackie Hebert

Jackie Hebert is the Director of Marketing for Beyond BookSmart. Whether it's managing our websites, overseeing our social media content, authoring and editing blog articles, or hosting webinars, Jackie oversees all Marketing activities at Beyond BookSmart. Before joining Beyond BookSmart in 2010, Jackie was a Speech-Language Pathologist at Needham High School. She earned her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Boston University, and her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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